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Did Brett Kavanaugh Lie Under Oath? The Cases For And Against

President Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, is sworn-in before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Sept. 4. (Andrew Harnik/AP)
President Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, is sworn-in before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Sept. 4. (Andrew Harnik/AP)
This article is more than 4 years old.

With Meghna Chakrabarti

The FBI background check on Brett Kavanaugh is in. Senators begin their review. Plus, a forensic legal examination of Brett Kavanaugh’s testimony. Nathan Robinson, editor of Current Affairs, has a detailed analysis challenging what Kavanaugh said. We’ll hear him and get pushback.


John Bresnahan,  Capitol Hill bureau chief for Politico. (@BresPolitico)

Nathan Robinson, editor of the journal Current Affairs. Author of "The Current Affairs Rules for Life: On Social Justice and its Critics." (@NathanJRobinson)

Anneke E. Green, senior director at the White House Writers Group and a columnist at RealClearPolitics. She worked with Brett Kavanaugh in the Bush White House for a little over a year. (@AnnekeEGreen)

From The Reading List

Politico: "McConnell sets key vote on Kavanaugh nomination for Friday" — "The Senate is set for a critical Friday vote on Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court nomination, teeing up a final vote by the weekend, with an FBI report on the sexual misconduct allegations against the judge expected in the chamber by Thursday morning.

"Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Wednesday night set up the critical procedural vote for Friday, saying on the floor that the Senate 'will receive' the results of the FBI's time-limited inquiry into the claims against President Donald Trump's high court pick in the coming hours.

"Senators are expected to view that report from the FBI under restricted parameters throughout the day Thursday, with one copy of that report available for access in a secure facility in the Capitol basement. Members of both parties, as well as a handful of staff, are expected to alternate hour-long viewing time slots, a Democratic aide said."

Current Affairs: "How We Know Kavanaugh Is Lying" — "On Thursday morning, before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Christine Blasey Ford detailed under oath her claim that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh attacked her and sexually violated her when he was 17. On Thursday afternoon, Kavanaugh went before the committee to defend himself from the charge, emotionally—sometimes angrily—claiming that he was an innocent man being persecuted by Democrats, that his hearings had become a 'national disgrace' that had 'destroyed my family and my good name.'

"The two witnesses, Ford and Kavanaugh, were both steadfast in their stories. The hearing did not offer any obvious moments that would decimate either party’s claims. Some viewers may have left not knowing what to believe: Ford was clear and responsive. Kavanaugh was irate and at times teary, but emotional denials are what we might expect from an innocent person who was wrongly accused. Predictably, people broadly on the left found Ford’s testimony compelling, while people broadly on the right… well, here are the headlines from the National Review’s homepage today:

  • Brett Kavanaugh’s History-Changing Speech
  • We Are Living Nineteen Eighty-Four
  • An Eleventh-Hour Ambush
  • Confirm Kavanaugh
  • Brett Kavanaugh Should Be Angry
  • After Kavanaugh’s Stand, Republicans Abandon Him At Their Peril

(This is a partial selection.)

"The allegations against Kavanaugh so infuriated Lindsey Graham that during the hearings he lapsed into what I think can only objectively be described as a sputtering fit of rage. 'I hope the American people can see through this sham.. This is going to destroy the ability of good people to come forward because of this crap… If you vote no, you’re legitimizing the most despicable thing I have seen in my time in politics.'

"Some concluded that they didn’t know what to conclude. Noah Rothman of Commentary said that 'Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s pain was real and searing' and 'the line of questioning pursued by a criminal prosecutor hired by Senate Republicans failed to effectively undermine her credibility' but that Kavanaugh 'argued forcefully that the condemnation of him and his family over a rumor with no contemporary corroborating evidence in its favor would be a monumental injustice, and he’s correct.' The hearing, Rothman said, resolved nothing about the facts.

"Let’s leave aside the procedural questions about if and how an investigation should proceed. Given what we know now, after the hearings, what can we conclude for certain? Let’s just say we do not know whether to believe Ford or Kavanaugh, that we found both of their testimonies equally likely to be true. In a state of uncertainty, we’d be left with a tricky situation. The truth or falsity of the allegation against Kavanaugh is extremely important; if it’s true, not only did he attack a woman three decades ago, but he lied shamelessly about it under oath, forcing Ford through a humiliating public process that led to her receiving death threats. If what Ford says is true, then not only should Brett Kavanaugh not be confirmed to the Supreme Court, but he should be impeached and removed from the federal judiciary entirely, disbarred, and prosecuted for perjury."

RealClearPolitics: "We Can Believe Ford and Confirm Kavanaugh" — "Though we are waiting for the results of the extended FBI investigation into claims that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh assaulted women as a teenager and college student, I’m still stuck on last Thursday’s hearing.

"I worked with Brett in the White House and believe him when he says he did not attack Dr. Christine Blasey Ford or anyone else. The man I knew would not do that. I’m also a feminist and believe Dr. Ford when she says she was attacked. She has no reason to lie.

"If this sounds like cognitive dissonance, you’re getting a small taste of what it is like to be a woman in America. We constantly navigate being told, mostly by men, what to believe on topics from our abilities and work history to our appearance and personal experiences. Our very identities can be casually litigated as a matter of conversation. To object to this reality runs the risk of being labeled “difficult,” especially in conservative circles.

"But we don’t want to treat someone, like Brett Kavanaugh, badly because he is a powerful man, or destroy his life to prove we support women. To hold a man to a different standard of truth is to delegitimize our own struggle for equal treatment. Feminism is about knowing women are as credible and capable as men and working to create a society that reflects that value. It does not mean always taking the side of a woman over a man regardless of the evidence."

Vox: "Did Brett Kavanaugh perjure himself? The debate, explained." — "As federal investigators continue their fact-finding inquiry into multiple allegations of sexual misconduct against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, a more public investigation is underway: Has Kavanaugh repeatedly lied to Congress?

"The latest instance putting Kavanaugh’s credibility into question comes in an NBC report Tuesday detailing communication between Kavanaugh, his team, and college friends to refute Deborah Ramirez’s claim that Kavanaugh exposed himself to her at Yale, before she had come forward with allegations in an article in the New Yorker.

"This account is in direct contradiction to Kavanaugh’s testimony last Thursday, when he angrily denied the multiple allegations of sexual misconduct brought against him and said he learned of Ramirez’s claim through the New Yorker story."

The Atlantic: "I Know Brett Kavanaugh, but I Wouldn’t Confirm Him" — "If I were a senator, I would not vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh.

"These are words I write with no pleasure, but with deep sadness. Unlike many people who will read them with glee—as validating preexisting political, philosophical, or jurisprudential opposition to Kavanaugh’s nomination—I have no hostility to or particular fear of conservative jurisprudence. I have a long relationship with Kavanaugh, and I have always liked him. I have admired his career on the D.C. Circuit. I have spoken warmly of him. I have published him. I have vouched publicly for his character—more than once—and taken a fair bit of heat for doing so. I have also spent a substantial portion of my adult life defending the proposition that judicial nominees are entitled to a measure of decency from the Senate and that there should be norms of civility within a process that showed Kavanaugh none even before the current allegations arose.

"This is an article I never imagined myself writing, that I never wanted to write, that I wish I could not write."

This program aired on October 4, 2018.


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